Saturday, January 19, 2008

Navel gazing, eh?

There's nothing more navel gazing than a blog post about blogging. But I'm constantly confronted with my ambivalence about the term, because while this here thing you're reading is clearly a blog as everyone knows it, I never use the term when referring to TV, Eh? and find it jarring when others do.

To me, a blog is really a technology, a type of website set up for continuous chronological entries with the ability for readers to comment (though of course not all blogs have that last part, even if they should). By that definition, TV, Eh? is unquestionably a blog. And yet I avoid the word and simply say I run a website that promotes Canadian television.

Because in common understanding – particularly among non-bloggers – a blog is a website of personal expression, an online diary of sorts. By that measure, TV, Eh? doesn't fit, since very little is my own original writing, and what is my original writing is actually from Blogcritics and treated like any other article link.

People not unreasonably assume that the site – the blog – is an extension of my personal taste, that I'm a huge fan of Canadian TV. I'm not. Oh, I'm a fan of Intelligence and Slings and Arrows, and enjoy other Canadian shows, but I'm not a fan of Canadian TV in general. I'm a fan of good TV, wherever it comes from. So that word I object to personalizes the association between blog and blogger to a degree I'm not comfortable with.

I've witnessed a Canadian actor's lips curl on hearing that I blog about Canadian TV. I've had a reporter hesitate to call me a blogger, fearing that it sounded diminishing. And yet that's what it is, a web log chronicalling what's going on in Canadian TV.

While I enjoy maintaining the website, what's going on in Canadian TV right now makes me want to distance myself from any personal connection to it even more. It's disheartening in a time when there are more Canadian series on the air right now than at any time I've been doing the site, when a US writers strike means there's little competition for non-reality eyeballs. Unfortunately, the greater exposure has also exponentially increased exposure to the underbelly of the industry.

If there's anything more navel-gazing than blogging about blogging, it's the Canadian TV industry talking about itself. I've been witnessing industry insiders desperately trying to convince people that they're wrong or stupid for not liking their show, and ratings spin that makes your head spin. And seriously, do I need the husband of a writer telling me I should like his wife's show more? Let me tell you – let John Doyle tell you – I do not.

I started TV, Eh? because publicity for the industry seemed to be in its infancy and it was something I could do that matched my webgeek interests with my interest in behind-the-scenes TV. A year and a half later, after encountering publicists who have no interest in publicizing, and TV insiders and their relatives who can't let their work speak for itself and find every excuse for failure except "the audience wasn't interested," I wish that infant would grow the hell up.

Harsh? Maybe so. But as I've said before using a different metaphor, if the Canadian TV industry wants to be taken seriously by the audience, they need to take their professionalism seriously first.